Is there any evidence that organisations do not measure the business impact of learning/training?

The depressing headlines…

Yes, there is, and I’m afraid the data does not paint a pretty picture! In September 2010 ESIFounded in 1981, ESI International, a subsidiary of Informa plc (LSE:INF), helps people around the world improve the way they manage projects, contracts, requirements and vendors through innovative learning. Our global headquarters are in Arlington, Va., USA, with additional operations throughout the world. The Arlington offices also serve as regional headquarters for the Americas, while regional headquarters for Europe, the Middle East and Africa are located in London and in Singapore for Asia. Additionally, ESI has partnerships that further expand our operational presence into several additional countries. concluded that just over half (50.7%) of organisations do not conduct any type of measurement to determine how effective their learning and/or training interventions are.

However, the depressing news does not stop there. Of the remaining half that say they do conduct some measurement, the majority of those (47.4%) admit that they don’t use specific methodologies for assessing business impact. The reality seems to be that the majority of those who do claim that they measure business impact rely largely on anecdotal evidence that is “collected” in an unsystematic fashion.

The 5 conclusions reached by the ESI…

Whilst the study provided a range of different data they reached 5 key conclusions:

1. There are a significant number of organisations who fail to see the business case for measuring the impact of their training/learning intervention.

2. Organisations would like to increase their understanding regarding the levels of employee engagement as a result of learning/training interventions.

3. Organisations need to develop the methodologies that they use to ensure confidence in their results.

4. Organisations need to be able to access personnel with the required skills to implement effective measurement techniques.

5. Organisations should take a particular interest in understanding the financial aspects of learning / training – been able to demonstrate a return on investment will strengthen the case for continued/further spending on learning/training.

(ESI International conducted an e-mail survey of government and commercial organisations across five continents between 8 – 17 September 2010, they received 412 responses).

Before we can improve our methodology it seems a change in mindset is required…

To finish on a low, a third to a half of those that responded saying that they didn’t measure any impact went on further to say that they felt measurement ‘is not required’ or ‘ measurement is not a priority’. In these tough financial times I’m not sure how long this kind of mindset by training professionals can be sustained. As trainers we should be focused on not just delivering excellent training, but on delivering excellent training that is highly relevant and makes a difference. We should have systems in place to be able to measure the success of that training – demonstrating where it is adding value to the business or service.

In my opinion having a plan of how you will measure the impact of learning/training on the business is essential. I believe that documenting this plan in the form of a simple strategy will help provide the necessary discipline required to actually get on and measure the results – this post outlines 5 reasons why you should have a training evaluation strategy.

You can access the full report by visiting the ESI website.

Does your organisation measure the business impact of learning/training? What measurement techniques are used? Is the data acted upon? It would be great to hear your experiences in the comments below.

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